OK, Raise Your Hand

Raise it that is, if you are ready to wave goodbye to 2016 and welcome to 2017.  Whether this past year was really good for you, or really bad, or even just somewhere in between, isn’t it a good feeling to be able to just put the year behind us, and start afresh?

Some people are all about making resolutions and setting goals for the New year.  That can be very helpful. We need to have some idea of the direction we want to go.    There’s something about a whole new year stretching out in front of you like a blank slate.  Anything is possible.  

I know the thing I have heard  most  from people, the last couple weeks, is that they can’t wait for 2016 to be over.  It has been a challenging year for many people. Yet, when we wake up tomorrow morning  to 2017, inevitably we will still have some of the same problems we had when we went to bed in 2016.  We will still see mistakes we made in this past year.  We will still remember the bad things that happened, and the people we lost.  Having a new year doesn’t change any of that.  But to me, its the kind of thing where in your mind you can turn a page and say OK, that was last year.  Its done.  It’s a new year.

Of course, we don’t have to wait for a new year to get a fresh start.  We can and should start fresh each day with new hopes and dreams and resolve.  Each night we should leave any anger or unforgiveness behind so we aren’t bogged down in it before we even start the day.  Lamentations 3:22-23 tells us “The faithful love of the Lord never ends!  His mercies never cease.  Great is his faithfulness;  his mercies begin afresh each morning.”  

Having a fresh new year in front of you is a little like the first day of school.  New notebooks, new pencils that whole  feeling of what will this year bring?  Hopefulness.  

Probably one of the most quoted verses about hope is Isaiah 40:31 “But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] Will gain new strength and renew their power;  They will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun]; They will run and not become weary, They will walk and not grow tired.” I’m sure I’m not alone in saying this is what I hope for in a new year.  

A new chance to wait on the Lord.  To trust in Him.  To be so close that I can hear His voice and follow, knowing that it’s His plan for my life, not my own.  And this verse also promises that while I am waiting I will gain new strength.  Not strength I have to work to gain on my own.   Isaiah 40:29  tells us “He gives strength to the weary,  And to him who has no might He increases power.”  I could use some of that.  How about you?  

No matter where you find yourself at the end of this year (or this day) even if your year was a “Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad  Year”  there is always hope.   We can’t get back those things we have lost, or undo things we wish we hadn’t done.  But what  we can do is to put our trust in the Lord.  We know that He has good plans for us.  “Plans to prosper us and not to harm us.  Plans to give us hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).  We know He’s working things out for us , Romans 8:28 “ And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”

Some of you had a really great year and you’re sorry to see 2016 go.  Perhaps you got married, had a baby, started a ministry or got a new job.  We Praise God with you!  For some 2016 was a year you never want to repeat, and you wouldn’t wish the likes of it on your worst enemy.  We weep with you and pray for you and we praise God.  No matter how each of our years went, there is one thing we all have in common.  We all have a new year ahead.  New beginnings.  And not one of us knows what the new year will hold for us.  So together we can trust, and we can pray.  And we can walk forward into the new year with hope.  

I pray that 2017 would be a blessed year for each and every one of you.  That you would be closer to God than you have ever been.  May God’s peace surround you, and His joy fill you all of the year.  

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